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A novel about love, loss, and sex -- but not necessarily in that order.
Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.

Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity.

218 pages, Hardcover

First published April 24, 2012

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About the author

Jackson Pearce

27 books2,626 followers

I am not very active on Goodreads-- this is largely a placeholder account! Therefore, I do not read Goodreads mail. If you want to get in touch with me, please go here: CONTACT ME!

Jackson Pearce currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a slightly cross-eyed cat and a lot of secondhand furniture. She recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and a minor in Philosophy and currently works for a software company even though she auditioned for the circus (she juggled and twirled fire batons, but they still didn’t want her). Other jobs she’s had include obituaries writer, biker bar waitress, and receptionist.

Jackson began writing when she got angry that the school librarian couldn’t tell her of a book that contained a smart girl, horses, baby animals, and magic. Her solution was to write the book herself when she was twelve. Her parents thought it was cute at first, but have grown steadily more concerned for her ever since.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 393 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews292k followers
August 25, 2016
This is a cute story about a father-daughter relationship after the mother has died... This is a religious/philosophical tale about the nature of faith and what lengths you should go to for the sake of your beliefs... This is a cute story about a father-daughter relationship after the mother has died... This is a religious/philosophical tale about the nature of faith and what lengths you should go to for the sake of your beliefs...This is... I don't even know. But more about that in a moment.

Purity gets an extra half star for Pearce's ability to be entertaining enough that you don't mind reading to the end even when the story kind of falls flat on its face. I found the same to be true with the only other novel of hers I have read - Sisters Red - in that the plot and especially the mystery weren't as satisfying as I had hoped for in a Red Riding Hood retelling but you could enjoy it and didn't experience any deep regret for having read it. But, having said that, I still think this may be where me and Ms Pearce part ways, I just don't have any desire right now to search out her other works.

The biggest question I have about Purity is: what the hell are you? What are you supposed to be? Where do you fit in? Are you serious or lighthearted? Because, on a serious note, the issues raised in this book about sexuality and religion are very relevant at this moment - more so in the United States than in Britain where I live. In some countries, politics and religion are so inextricably linked that questions about sexual conduct often come under political and public scrutiny: is it okay to have sex before marriage? Is it okay to have casual sex? Does god want people to be "pure"? So it wouldn't be surprising if Pearce was trying to make some kind of political or religious statement here, or alternatively just looking to explore this aspect of sex. But...

This book was very light-hearted. I get the feeling that Pearce wanted to explore a serious issue without scaring people off with too much religion and politics, but the result was a weird mixture of serious and light that really didn't work for me. She occasionally brings up deep questions about God and faith that feel out of place and, before any development is made in that direction, she quickly counteracts it with the light fluffy stuff again. This book was obviously suffering from an identity crisis that could have been solved if Pearce had stuck to one tone or the other. Personally, I think the lighter tone suits her work better and would have been more fitting with the characters, plus the religious aspect wasn't central enough in the novel to justify the occasional and random wandering off into philosophy land. If you are looking for a novel that handles the serious issue/light tone balance well, then I would recommend Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.

I would only recommend reading this if you're particularly looking for a new approach to the overdone "grief novel", it does take that kind of story in a new direction. But I wouldn't expect to find anything mind-blowingly original or thought-provoking here.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
April 16, 2012
You have 5 weeks to lose your virginity… Go!

To keep her promises to her dying mother, Shelby has to find a loophole that will let her get away with breaking the vows she has to take in a few weeks. The answer: she has to have sex, STAT. A plot that starts out as mostly fluff and a bit silly, comes off being surprisingly touching by the end. I admit some things in this plot are a bit irrational. How she works around the promises, making decisions that are sometimes foolish and irresponsible, but underneath it all I could understand why Shelby thought she was doing the right thing. She is, after all, guided (or misguided) from a life lived by these promises; her only parental guidance in a way.

I was pleasantly surprised by a couple of things in this book. The first is the hilariously funny narration. The humor is so honestly clever that it catches you off guard for laugh-out-loud-and-spit-coffee-all-over-the-book moments. I loved it! The second is the inclusion of a recurring religious subject matter in the plot. Do not be put off by this, though. I usually immediately shy away from religious content, but Pearce writes it into the narration - a teenager's point of view - while introducing realistic and shockingly (in my case) appealing thoughts on the matter. Shelby is questioning god's existence, unable to believe in a god that would take her mom. Her thoughts on this intrigued me greatly.

Her mother's promises, the princess ball, losing her virginity are all big storylines in the book. However, the one that is constantly hovering above all others, is Shelby's relationship with her father. Not having a mother figure to turn to, she's had difficulty connecting with him; merely running through the motions. As much as this book can be silly, fun, and fluffy, I can't deny the emotional punch of this father/daughter connection - or lack thereof. In the end, it's the most important side of this story, and one that will undoubtedly touch you.

In only 218 pages, Purity dishes out a great story full of laughter and heart. Even though we don't explore the many topics we encounter in great depths, we do tap into a lot of different issues, whether thought provoking or just there for fun. In the end, it's clearly meant for a light read with a lot of laughs and moving circumstances.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Nafiza.
Author 7 books1,199 followers
April 24, 2012
This is going to be a difficult review to write. Not because I hated the book but because I didn’t agree with it. So while from an objective point of view, I can see where Shelby is coming from, I cannot quite bring myself to agree with her actions in any way or form.

I find female sexuality very interesting. This might be because I’m a female myself, hur, but also because being Muslim, I’ve had people automatically assume that things such as sex etc not something I would care to discuss or talk about because…you know, being pure according to religion etc etc. My personal feelings aside, Pearce’s novel disturbed me very early because of the slut-shaming. If you are not aware of what the term means, according to one feminist blog, slut-shaming/slut-bashing is a feminist term used to describe incidents where women are judged based on their sexual life/actions. In Purity, this is somewhat addressed and I won’t give it away except to say that I wish Shelby had taken more time to think about her gradual realization of her stereotyping but in the end, I’m glad she does think about it. I’m glad the issue was addressed because I don’t think it right to judge a girl by the number of sex partners she has or how much she likes sex.

The entire premise rests on Shelby’s inability to deviate from the promises she made to her mother. She cannot disobey her father in any way but she has to live life in an unrestrained manner. Therefore she decides to lose her virginity before she has to promise her dad that she won’t lose it. I suspect the novel would have worked better had Shelby’s father been characterized differently than he was. While their eventual bonding is heartwarming, I cannot understand why it took Shelby the amount of time it did to actually finally talk to her father. He just seems like a sad man trying to cope with the death of his wife and the rearing of his teenage daughter.

The romance in this is ridiculous and Shelby’s ultimate decision is just as ridiculous. There are funny moments in the novel and I particularly liked how Pearce included Ruby’s skin condition into the narrative. That was well done. So considering that I am so ambivalent about the novel, I don’t think I can, in good conscience, give you an opinion either ways. If sex is something light to you, something that is not a big deal (and I’m not being judgmental here), you might like this better than I do. But if it means a lot more to you than that, you might have the same trouble with it that I do. Either ways, decide for yourself.
Profile Image for Mimi.
265 reviews359 followers
May 15, 2012
Warning: This book will make you laugh! You'll be smiling so much that your cheeks hurt at some points, and at others you won't be able to help aching for Shelby as she learns difficult life lessons without a mom to guide her, which no kid should have to do.

Shelby has 5 weeks to lose her virginity before she has to vow against impurity at the Princess Ball. The idea may sound juvenile at first, but it's actually NOT. It's sweet and honest. Shelby is bound by three promises she vowed to her mother before she died of cancer, and even when it's difficult sometimes, she's devoted to following them — always. So when two of the promises conflict, she has to rush to fill that loophole before it's too late!

I want to give Shelby a medal of epic snark; she was such a fun, adorable, and heartwarming character! Unlike most teenagers, she takes her promises seriously. But like most teenagers, she's flawed and quirky and ridiculously fun. Along with her best friends, Jonas and Ruby, they make one hilarious trio that you'll be rooting for until the very end.

This is a book about family and friendship, love and loss — and yes, sex, but it's not explicit at all so I feel comfortable recommending it to all growing teens, adults, and any fan of Jackson Pearce! She expertly writes about the strained, awkward, yet totally sweet relationship between a daughter and a father who are trying to reconnect.

Absolutely hilarious and surprisingly heartfelt, Purity is a book that has the heart, soul, and quirky fun necessary for a great read. I finished it in one sitting and itched to pick it up again immediately after, all for the reason that it was so much more than I expected! :)

BUY or BORROW?: This is one short and sweet book that will always be able to warm your heart, even on those darkest days! I don't care what people say, but this is buy-worthy in my opinion! ;)

(Original review at Mimi Valentine's YA Review Blog)
Profile Image for Maggie Stiefvater.
Author 65 books167k followers
January 7, 2013
I talked about this one on NPR (http://www.npr.org/2012/12/22/1675627...) when I was highlighting the best 2012 YA fiction that I read IN 2012. Here's what I said:

I'm an unashamed lover of movies as well as books, and I have a special place reserved in my black heart for movies that feel like books and vice versa. Nick Hornby and John Green generally live in this zone for me, with characters and plots both walking a fine line between quirky and unbelievable. Jackson Pearce elbows her way into this realm with Purity. In it, Shelby promises her dying mother that she'll listen to her father, love as much as possible, and live without restraint. Innocent-enough promises in theory, but in practice, they lead to all sorts of capers and crises involving best friends, sex and church ladies. The combination of Pearce's humorous voice and the novel's bite-sized length make it easy to hand to most everyone. Like Hornby's and Green's books, I would pick it up for the light and breezy concept, and remember it for the surprisingly poignant character relationships.
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,232 followers
July 13, 2012
I was a little hesitant to read this, I'm not even going to lie. It's not that I don't like Jackson's writing (because I do), or that I thought that she would be heavy-handed and didactic and...zealous (because I didn't, really). It's just that there was the chance. I mean, a YA book that tackles virginity in terms of purity runs the risk of being much more god how do I say this without sounding close-minded narrow evil jaded awful what the hell I'll just go for it religious and saccharine and gee-golly-gosh wholesome for my tastes. It runs the risks of being a little too brain-washy for me. I like me some free thought, okay? Some exploration of deep issues and personal choice, not just a battle of lustfulness and godliness. (do not want.)
[Also: is it wrong of me to say that I was also worried that there was a chance that I would lose respect for Jackson and her writing if that was the path it did take? Because that was part of the trepidation, I'm not going to lie. I avoid religious discussions whenever I can because I don't want to inevitably view people differently afterward... Unintentional moment of truth, there.]

FORTUNATELY, Jackson avoided all of the pitfalls I feared the story might fall into. It's much more coming of age - and coming to terms - than some heavy-handed emphasis on religion and purity. It is about questioning and finding yourself and your beliefs, whatever those may be. Shelby questions God - and questions everything - as she learns to navigate her relationships and discover who she is and what she thinks, feels, and wants.  It's funny and poignant - and predictable, yes but not in a bad way. And it's super quick.

Now, here's for the opposite-of-me warning: I think the things I liked may offend some readers.Where I found it well handled and thought it was authentic and relatable, others may find it, uh...sinful? I'd venture to say that reading the synopsis should really be enough to tell you if you'd be offended or made uncomfortable by this book. It's all pretty laid out (pun accidental, but...eh, appropriate, I guess). At its core, it's not so simple, but on the surface, it IS a book about a girl trying to lose her virginity (with someone, anyone - a stranger, if need be) as a loophole in a promise to her parents, and that will inevitably bother some people. If you're one of those, you may want to skip this. (Though I think maybe you're exactly the type of person that needs to read this.)

I think also there are times people may find Shelby's relentless adherence to the "Rules" at any cost a bit ridiculous. Personally, I thought it made sense in a really sad, human way, so it didn't bother me too much. People do this. In real life, people do seemingly bizarre things like this. They hold on too tight and too long, and do absurd things out of love and guilt and fear of what's next, and because they don't know how to stop. They don't know what will happen if they stop, and it's easier not to confront whatever it is that this bizarre thing (like The Rules, or whatever it may be that people cling to) is helping to avoid. Added to the fact that Shelby's so young, and her reaction didn't really seem so farfetched anymore. But there are those who will always think it's farfetched, or will think it's forced for the purposes of the story. Or who just plain won't relate to Shleby.

But those two warnings aside, I think this is definitely worth the read. It was sweet and enjoyable, and engaging and quick. And even if it didn't necessarily knock my socks off and have me pushing it on everyone I knew, it still wasn't something I wanted to put down or pass on, which is really saying something considering how hesitantly I started it.
[And it didn't make me think less of Jackson or her writing. If anything, it made me think better of both.]
Profile Image for Steph Su.
943 reviews452 followers
March 30, 2012
PURITY had a great premise that catches the attention of even the most jaded of readers—promises to a dead person! a ball! SEX!—but unfortunately, the book fell flat for me. The story seems to struggle with an identity crisis over whether it’s lighthearted or philosophical, with the result that it doesn’t really succeed at either end.

The good thing is that the characters, their relationships with one another, and the story’s romance are done very well. Shelby is a bit of a Jane Everygirl, which was slightly disappointing, as there was great potential for her to have some interesting quirks, and not every story requires an Everygirl at its heart in order for it to be relatable and likable. Fortunately, other characters, such as Shelby’s friends, are lovely to read about. Nothing too special about them, but they’re nice and supportive and people whom you want to be your friends. Shelby’s relationship with her father is more noteworthy, in that I think that a fair number of daughters can relate to Shelby and her father’s awkward yet fierce love for each other.

What tripped me up about PURITY, however, was its intent. Was it a straightforward novel about overcoming lifelong grief, looking for sex, and finding love instead? If PURITY wanted simply to be a grief novel, I think I would have been okay with it. Grief novels are obviously a dime a number in YA literature these days, but there are still some decent, if perhaps not original, stories among the lot. However, at many points PURITY dipped into random paragraphs about questioning one’s belief in God and faith, and I suppose that I didn’t feel like the religion aspect of this book was built up enough to support Shelby’s questioning thoughts.

PURITY is a noble effort at making different a tried-and-true contemporary YA routine, but ultimately it didn’t leave much of an impression on me. Read it if you want a slightly different spin on the classic grief novel, albeit one that doesn’t entirely succeed at being different.
Profile Image for Charley Cook.
137 reviews709 followers
January 16, 2015
Just wish it had delved further into the world of 'purity parties' and controversy with virginity in the Christian religion. Idk, just wish it had gone just a bit further.
Profile Image for Hallie.
954 reviews124 followers
June 6, 2012
This was a very odd book, which in the end won me over despite some pretty major reservations. It's not often that I feel the need to flag this fact, but I did read this as a not-at-all-young adult and furthermore, as a mother (of girls). However, I also read it as someone whose father died when she was 7, and who wasn't even in the same continent as her parents at the time.

There's not much point in copying and pasting the description above of the book, although I do want to comment on this description of the vow that is to come at the end of the Princess Ball: 'to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex'. It's actually much less vague than that - no alcohol before legal drinking age (and not excessive amounts after), no drugs and no pre-marital sex. And that last line 'who has a right to her purity'? Horrible.

Anyway, the reason I said the book is odd is the sense I got when reading of the layers of book (to a certain extent justified by the acknowledgments section, in which Pearce said she'd originally planned for a very light and fluffy book, and thanked fellow writers who'd helped her to write something much deeper and more introspective). Layer 1 was, to my mind, pretty silly. That was the part of the book relating to Shelby's contortions over trying to keep promise 1 (love and listen to your dad) and promise 3 (live without restraint), when her father is pushing her into attending the Princess Ball with him, where she'll have to vow not to have sex until she's married. The loophole she and her friends come up with is that if she's *already* had sex when she takes the vow, it's meaningless. So she's got to find a guy willing to have sex (with condom!, without high likelihood of STDs!) and who'll be happy to just leave it at that. Wham, bam, thank you sir. It's more a rom-com film set-up than a real novel, to my mind.

But, that's definitely not all the book has, and layer 2 - including Shelby's striving to live up to the promises she made to her mother, her questioning of religion, of God, and the gradual growth of her understanding - was moving. She comes to see what has been glaringly obvious to the reader throughout - that her mother would *never* be happy with her finding some random guy to hook up with, in order to create a loophole of this kind.

I suppose that's where I don't think the two layers of the book fit that well together, because Shelby seems smart enough to have figured out sooner that this type of game playing to abide by the letter of the law with respect to the promises, is actually a deeply dishonest way of appearing to be loyal to promises made. Especially as she has two very close friends who are supportive of her attempts to keep the promises, and also smart and kind. But I managed to accept that this is just the way it's happened, and then was able to appreciate her working it out. Along the way, Shelby has fun with her father for the first time in ages, makes some pretty rotten decisions, and realises what, again, the reader will have known all along are her feelings towards Jonas.

Finally, the whole idea of the Princess Ball appalled me, though I suspect that things of the sort aren't that unusual in the States. I found the wearing white, having the big wedding-style cake and making vows - between father and daughter - quite disturbing. Attaching the pledges to 'purity' onto what is supposedly a social event makes it even worse, as this became coercive rather than supportive. It was nice that Shelby found a surprising lack of correlation between the apparent 'goodness' of the girls participating and the actual sincerity of their feelings towards the event. Not that it actually should be surprising, but Shelby is, I think, intentionally shown as rather young in some of her emotional understanding.

No book is for everyone, and this one may not be for a lot more people than is the case with many other books. Some readers are doubtless going to be bored or offended by the religious questioning; some by Shelby's decision to engage in a casual sexual encounter, and willingness to use a guy to get what she wants; some will probably find the mixture of funny and silly with much greater emotional depth doesn't work. I ended up caring a lot for all of the main characters, and finding many of the emotional responses very true. And the life list itself was wonderful, but the scene in which Shelby goes by herself to 'cross off' one item from it had me in tears.

Note on the audiobook: Pearce herself reads it, and reads it very well. Nicely pitched, and whatever about authorial intention it was good to know that there weren't any distortions of character or tone by a reader. The acknowledgments at the end, especially when Pearce thanked her mother and grandmother for inspiring a scene with Shelby's mother when she's near death, had me in tears again.
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 6 books1,205 followers
February 24, 2012

While the premise was interesting, the execution did not work, and the messages became very scrambled, jumbled, and ultimately problematic.

Shelby's journey was one that frustrated me because she was so close minded, and even in the end when she believes she's figured it out when it comes to boys -- -- I still didn't find myself believing she got anything out of this.

More problematic for me was . I guess a lot of it boils down to a mixed set of messages about sex and power and gender.

Then there's the spirituality/religious aspect to this book too which sort of left me more questions than answers, and not necessarily in a good way.

Conversely, I found the end satisfying. I liked Shelby's dad. He may have been the only well-depicted male in the book.

Longer review to come.
Profile Image for Eric.
17 reviews
January 8, 2013
I'm reasonably sure that, as a 30 something year old male, I have no business reading this book. I'm also quite confident that the act of reading this book has put me on some government watch list. Or several of them.

But hey if NPR puts it on one of their top 5 lists, who am I to argue?

My inner teenage girl could well identify with the the glee and terror of the Princess Ball. My older, grumpy, quite male self struggled to identify with the merits of panty selection.

There is a strength to the narrative as very real questions are asked and explored about God, promises, relationships, and obviously purity. Most of it is superficial, but occasionally deeper truths are revealed.

My problem mostly comes from the basic plotting of the novel. My inner mother tells me that when I made my daughter promise to listen to and obey her father I certainly didn't intend for her to try to procreate with the next available male to keep that promise.

It was ultimately too much of a stretch for me. Which is a shame, because I think there is real wisdom and insight here.

Is it a good book? It's not a bad book.
Profile Image for Shanyn.
375 reviews141 followers
January 26, 2014
I very much enjoyed Sisters Red, as I appreciated the modern take on a fairy tale. I read some reviews after I finished that mentioned some themes I may not have liked, but I didn't pick up on them as a reader, so I didn't let them affect my opinion.

Full Review: http://chickloveslit.com/2012/03/revi...
Profile Image for Melody Manful.
Author 3 books265 followers
August 13, 2012
S.E.X. Wow, now that I’m officially 18 I think I can say the ‘S’ word without making a face or acting like I’m in kindergarten. S.E.X… no wait I just made a face, but it was defiantly not the same face that Shelby made when she decided to lose her virginity on a loophole.

Remember when in the old days virtue was some kind of a big deal? Well, in Purity it’s not! I’m pretty sure when Shelby hears that someone *cough* Edward Cullen *cough* made such a big deal out of the whole virtue thing, she’d laugh her pretty head off.
So, that being said let me break it down to you using Jackson Pearce’s own word.

Purity is a novel about sex, strangers, and loopholes — but not necessarily in that order.
So before Shelby’s mother died, Shelby promised her three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. But as the novel goes on she is finding it really hard to keep the promises. And it wasn’t getting any better when her father decided to turn her into Martha Stewart and ship her off Pleasantville. Well it didn’t happen like that, all the old man wanted was her daughter to join some Princess Ball committee, and vow to live pure lives — in other words, no “bad behavior,” no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex. Which in today’s words is code for ‘Dad why don’t you just put a neon sign on my forehead that reads ‘loser’?”

So since Shelby didn’t want to be a princess, she made a decision to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. Yeah I know right, didn’t she ever read Cinderella? Back then girls would die to become a princess!
So the rest of the book goes on and she tries to hook up with some random guys, but failed miserably. By this time her two best friends, Ruby and Jonas, were like her armor. They had a list and one of them even succeeds on finding her the guy who got the job done.
Somehow along the line, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity.
This line: “who really has the right to her purity” is kind of misleading.
At one point when I was reading this book, I thought it was a very disrespectful and demeaning way to get a girl to lose her virginity, but then I thought about it, and I realized that Jackson pictured today’s world in a picture perfect single snapshot. I loved her writing, the funny way she maks the readers come to turns with what promises, friendship, family and somehow love means.

I love how she built and described the friendship between her characters. The way she introduced the love story that was yet to develop between Shelby and Jonas, and how she ended the book itself. Maybe she could have gone into much details of what comes next, but I liked how she left it, because it gave room for my own imagination to linger. After all, every ending is the beginning of something else.

Purity is a funny and an amazing read for anyone who simply loves to read. I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Kelly Hager.
3,097 reviews129 followers
March 20, 2012
Shelby's mom died when she was little. Before she did, though, she made Shelby promise three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible and to live a life without restraint. Shelby clings to those promises, because they're now as close as she can get to her mom and basically her mom's last pieces of advice. She and her dad get along fine, living parallel but not particularly close lives. She has high school and her friends; he has his job and a habit of volunteering for every committee that comes his way.

And then her dad announces that he has a new project, one for both of them. They're going to plan the Princess Ball...which is a purity ball. And at the end, there will be vows that each girl will abstain from drugs (forever), drinking (until they're of age, and then only in moderation) and sex (until marriage). Here's the thing: if she promises that, she will have to obey it. And Shelby doesn't want to get married young, but she ALSO doesn't want to be a virgin in her 30s (when she does plan on marrying). So how to listen to her dad in this case? But Shelby's found a loophole. If she loses her virginity BEFORE she takes the pledge, then she's home free.

I'll be honest, I read this book at the exact perfect time. It's just a few days after the anniversary of my dad's death (a traditionally awful time for me) and Shelby was the perfect narrator. This book isn't completely grief-soaked but at the same time, the lack of her mom is all over this book.

Also, the idea of purity balls fascinates and repels me in equal measure. If I had a daughter, I would tell her to wait until she's in college but the number one lesson about sex, the most important one? Do not ever have sex or not have sex based on what someone else tells you to do. We each know our bodies and our hearts, and we're the ones who know when we're ready or when we're not.

As a grownup reading this, was it sad that Shelby wanted this loophole and to sleep with someone she didn't particularly care for/about? A little, yes. But at the same time, it's sex. And I would rather my imaginary daughter have a first time like that than one that she thought mattered until the other person absolutely smashed her heart to bits. And I'd be willing to bet the second case is a lot more prevalent (it was in my case).

I absolutely adored this book, but again, I read it at the perfect time. I'm not entirely sure that it'll translate for everyone. Even so, I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Jenny.
472 reviews110 followers
May 25, 2012
Purity is a beautiful tapestry of words; colorful emotional threads woven together to create a unique story rich with humor that still touches on more serious issues like God, sex, and growing up. For those (like me) who tend to steer clear of books that have prominent religious overtones, fear not, Ms. Pearce approaches the topic with an intriguing and appealing combination of gravity and levity, making Shelby’s story not so much one specifically about her faith, but rather about her confusion as to her beliefs in the years following the loss of her mother. Shelby’s struggle to make sense of the tragedy is something far more universal in nature than an exploration of the tenets of any particular religion, and is therefore something that instantly connects us to her regardless of our personal views.

Shelby is hilarious, at times utterly ridiculous (in an amusing way), and a complete jumble of flaws and strengths endearingly combined to create a very human, very down-to-earth young woman. Her devotion to her mother’s memory and the last promises she made to her is something we can’t help but respect despite our ability to recognize that her singular and strict interpretation of those promises is not what her mother intended for her only daughter, and it’s both painful and poignant to watch as she stumbles trying to follow her mother’s words to the very letter. She questions life, death, and God, she makes mistakes, and she seeks out a sexual relationship for all the wrong reasons, but through all of that she’s someone who has our support, and often our laughter, because we know for her to discover the intent behind her mother’s promises rather than the literal interpretation she has to walk a road of her own making.

A true highlight of Shelby’s entirely-too-short tale of self-discovery is Ms. Pearce’s extraordinary sense of humor. We spend much of the story in tears laughing at Shelby’s antics as she pursues a loophole in the principles that guide her life, with one scene in particular involving a locked glass case containing condoms at the pharmacy causing our stomachs to cramp with the force of our mirth, and our faces to turn an entertaining shade of red on her behalf. Overall, Purity is a quick and hugely entertaining read, its appeal bound to be wide in scope regardless of the religious and sexual threads that run through it as a result of a truly charming protagonist, a little romance, and a whole lot of less-than romantic escapades.

Rating: 4/5
Profile Image for Amanda Pearl.
528 reviews261 followers
May 24, 2012
I read Sisters Red, Jackson's first book, last year and was underwhelmed. It was hard to say exactly why, but I just didn't connect to the story like I wanted. But Purity is a very different story from Sisters Red, and I think Jackson Pearce should write more contemporary stories, her voice translates excellently. Purity is a fantastic story about love, faith, and freedom, plus I'm a sucker for father daughter stories :)

Purity handles the topics of death, sexuality, and religion with a gentle grace. Shelby, the main character, is an interesting heroine. Her motivations are difficult to understand in the beginning, but as you listen to her rationalize her decisions and we being to learn more about her relationship with her mother you start to understand why she does what she does. I liked the growth the character displayed and the questions that she raised. I think it's very important for people to question the religion you're raised in and to make sure that you follow what you truly believe, not just what you are taught.

The best part of Purity is the development of Shelby's relationship with her father. I think her dad was my favorite character, and there were some adorable and terribly awkward interactions that made him completely endearing. His attempts at a sex talk and doling out punishments were particularly hilarious.

Purity packs a lot into just over 200 pages. There are a lot of questions raised that I think every person should think about in their own life. It's a lighter book with a lot of humor, but with some important messages as well.

Profile Image for hal .
769 reviews109 followers
January 22, 2016
I did enjoy Purity, a lot more than I thought I would. I liked Shelby, she was endearing and I saw her grow and change through the story. I liked her friendship with Ruby and the friendship/romance with Jonas. I thought her memories of her mother were sweet.

And most of all, I loved her relationship with her father, it was really sweet. My father and I are really close, so I could sorta relate to Shelby.

Normally, I would like that religion wasn't a big theme in the book. I don't really enjoy reading books where religion/faith is the central point of the book. However, in Purity, with the issues of sex and virginity, religion is kind of a given. But it wasn't a main theme and that was weird. Really weird.

Another thing was, Purity had some serious themes, but the book felt too light and fluffy. It was a weird mix of somber and light & fun. I felt the author handled the issues of sex and virginity too lightly, and those are serious things.

The final problem I had with Purity is this; why did Shelby realize AFTER having sex with Jeffrey that she actually had feelings for Jonas?!

But other than that, I was pleasantly surprised by Purity. It had good writing, nice characters and I really liked the fact that there was no slut-shaming or judging women for their sexual preferences.

Three stars.
Profile Image for Edward Sullivan.
Author 4 books203 followers
June 17, 2012
Funny, honest, and occasionally poignant. The idea of a ceremony in which teenage girls pledge their virginity to their fathers is one of the creepiest non-criminal things I can think of.
Profile Image for Michelle.
Author 38 books401 followers
May 8, 2012
While I'm giving this story three stars which means, "I liked it," I can honestly say there were some things I liked and some that I really didn't appreciate or like very much. A true rating is probably closer to 2.5 stars because I disliked more than I liked, but I did finish the book so I wasn't bored out of my mind, which is a good thing.

At any rate, what I liked about the book was that in some ways it did reflect the mindset of a teen who just wanted to get that virginity issue out of the way, but thankfully the young girl realized (to an extent) that it was a misguided goal. I also liked that some of the dialog felt realistic. Though crass at times and a bit harsher than I'd like to see in a teen book, it was often pretty typical. The theme about Shelby missing her mother was well done and the reality of not knowing her father and wishing she knew him better was also well done. I did find the story pretty readable once I got past the clumsiness of the premise.

Things I didn't like ran the gamut. First of all, the premise was a bit cheesy. I wasn't buying the "three promises" thing even though the author tried very hard to make a case for it. I didn't like the fact that they used the Lord's name in vain a number of times. The story would not have been hurt if those words had been deleted, though the young man Ben resembling Jesus and then saying "Oh, God" was funny in a twisted sort of way.

I really didn't like how the author made the character so hostile to Christianity, though some points were valid regarding her not understanding and her anger toward God. The church scenes and the pastor I had mixed feelings about. It was almost like Shelby wanted a reason to have faith, and her reasoning sounded very teen-like, so that worked for me. I also liked Shelby's opinion that teens should be honest with the people they love. She says teens should not pretend something that isn't true and go through with a ceremony if they didn't really mean it.

One thing that disturbed me was the fact that while her attitude about getting rid of her virginity was something I've seen before when I was a teen, so it was realistically shown, it was more the fact that she ended up treating sex so casually and how she wasn't sad that she'd given it away to a guy she didn't even like was a bit difficult for me to digest. Yes, the scene felt realistic. Her heart wasn't in it and thus "getting laid" wasn't that big of a deal because for her it was a means to an end. Most of the time when girls do agree to have sex for the first time it's because they have feelings for the guy. I guess it bugged me that in her heart she treated her purity like it didn't mean much. I would have liked to see her realizing that she should have waited for someone she loved. Or had some regrets and not told people she was "fine" afterward. If the author intended to show some remorse, I wasn't feeling it.

Trying to think back to how my mindset was at sixteen and comparing it to this book, I would walk away with one conclusion... having sex is not a big deal if you don't have feelings for the person. Call me crazy, but as a teen that would have stuck out for me at the time and probably encouraged me to do it to "get the virginity issue out of the way." Maybe that was just the way my mind worked and others wouldn't see it that way, but it seemed to be the message being promoted. While the author tried to redeem the story at the end with the "love" theme trumping everything else, it fell a bit flat for me. Last, after all of that waiting for her to realize who she really loved, I would have liked to see Shelby and Jonas kiss at least once. That was a bit of a letdown. I didn't feel encouraged at the end of the book because the character's arc wasn't strong enough to make me satisfied at the end.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Liz.
860 reviews185 followers
October 1, 2012
Some young adult novels are straightforward with their premise. For example, by looking at the title, cover, and synopsis of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares, one can infer that it’s a sweet story about friendship and awesome pants. Others, like Purity, leave the reader wondering what the book will be like: is this going to be a serious and sad novel? Will the author leave me thinking deep thoughts, or just throw me a fluffy storyline with heavy themes merely sprinkled throughout the story, almost as though they are afterthoughts? Pearce’s story tried to be deep and still have a sweet story, and although I appreciated the effort and fast pace that Purity offered, it failed to live up to my expectations.

Ever since the death of her mother five years ago, Shelby has struggled with her religious faith. Honestly? This is the most well-done part of the novel. Although I prefer not to dive deeply into personal details on the blog, I spent a lot of time contemplating my faith and asking myself questions about it, and Shelby’s questions reminded me a lot of my own experience. There are times when a story is so predictable and familiar that it’s eye-rolling, and others when it’s so predictable and familiar that it allows the reader to relate to the character and forge a true bond with the character. The latter is definitely what I experienced while reading this part of Shelby’s story.

Of course, being a novel about a girl trying to lose her virginity, Purity also spends a lot of time dealing with sex. S-E-X. Sex, sex, sex. If you’re wondering why that was necessary, it’s because at one point or another, Shelby thinks about pretty much every character in this book doing the deed (or however you like to think of it). As you can guess, topics of slut-shaming and judgment are briefly addressed. Are these passages relevant to Shelby thinking about her mother’s death? Yes. Are they done in a way that’s particularly striking or poignant? No, not really. While the writing here isn’t bad, it felt unoriginal, like something I’d read before.

Nothing about this book leaves me more conflicted than the character of Jonas. Jonas’s character wasn’t what I initially thought it would be, but I still figured out what was going to happen between Shelby and him by the end of the novel. I was not pleased with how Pearce ended this element of the story. On the one hand, the character I thought Jonas was going to be would have been a major stereotype, even thought it might have made for a more interesting story. On the other hand, as it stands, Jonas’s role in this story turns this book too saccharine and generic for me. It also felt as though Pearce tried so hard to make Jonas’s car Lucinda into a distinct character that Jonas himself nearly got overlooked. This is my first foray into Pearce’s work and I’m left feeling very disappointed by this characterization.

Purity is not an awful book. Some readers will enjoy the sweet storyline, whereas others will viciously throw it across the room when they read about how Shelby questions her religion. Despite falling somewhat towards the former end of this spectrum, I can’t help thinking of what could have been. What if Jackson had tried an edgier ending that didn’t feel like it could be tacked on to the end of a ‘90s high school rom com? What if Jonas’s character was totally different, not there, or replaced by someone else entirely? Pearce’s contemporary debut, along with reviews of her other work, leave me wary and wondering if every single one of her books will feel generic to me, or if this was just a fluke.
Profile Image for Shesten Melder.
106 reviews23 followers
March 19, 2012
Plot Sketch: Before Shelby's mom died, she made her promise her three things: to listen and love her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Up until now, she's done a really good job of living without restraint, and obeying her mostly-uninvolved father. But now Shelby's got a conundrum on her hands impending Princess Ball, where she has to pledge her purity to her father. And her father won't let her out of it. This is the story of how Shelby tries to reconcile the Promises in her life, trying to find a loophole that allows her to keep both Promise One and Promise Three.

Verdict: This is one of those books I won't be able to reconcile for a while I'm afraid. And I can't explain to you why because it will spoil the book. But here's what I can tell you. The writing is on-par with Pearce's other work; while not sublime, it's solid. There are no giant gaping holes in the plot leaving me to second-guess Shelby's decisions or the journey she takes to get to the end. The characters are relatable and realistic. They're not an idealized version of today's teen or a grieving husband turned single parent.

I also like the structure of the book. Its chapters are titled in relationship to a big event at the end... one that if I tell you, will betray some of the suspense in the book because you don't know which event the countdown refers to. Which was pretty awesome.

That said, I'm still emotionally upended with this book. After I finished it last night, I laid in bed, wondering about how Shelby could have taken a different path. I came to the realization that she couldn't have. But that just made me so much more disappointed. This morning, after sleeping on it, I find that I'm not even disappointed in any of the characters, I'm disappointed in the situation. But the situation is one that probably thousands of teens in the world face each year, and it's real, and it just makes me sad that they have to go through something similar to what Shelby did. It sorta broke my heart.

PURITY is more complex than its surface suggests. Yes, there are major themes of *gasp* purity and virginity and respect in the book, but there are also deeper themes I wasn't expecting to encounter like God, religion, parenthood, and love - true love. Shelby's struggle with religion is so different than the normal struggles with God we see depicted in YA. It's a struggle that illustrates, and illustrates very vividly, that teens have a better grasp of logic and experience than they get credit for.

Personally, I think that this book will benefit parents of teens more than it will teens. And that's a good thing. The psychology of the teen mind is dead on, the reaction to conflict is exactly what I saw happen with a teen last week, and the lessons I learned as an adult have to be just as important - if not more - than the lessons that are inside for teens to learn. But of course I'd say that. I'm an adult.

Parents: There is sex in this book. The plot revolves around Shelby's plan to lose her virginity to satisfy both her parents. And *SPOILER* she does lose her virginity and not in a good way or one that even ends up mattering in the end *END SPOILER* There is usage of the f-word, I remember I think three instances, and it is used by the main character in a moment of anger in a true-to-form verb.

I want to give you a fantastic reference to compare it to and say that elements of this are similar to another great thing that I love, but honestly? I can't think of a pop culture reference that even closely parallels these themes or experiences. And that, my friends, is a first.
Profile Image for Wandering Librarians.
409 reviews48 followers
April 10, 2012
Shelby made her mother three promises before she died: listen to her father, love as much as possible and to live without restraint. Shelby has lived by the Promises for years, but now she's run in to trouble. Her father wants her to help with and participate in the Princess Ball, a father-daughter dance that includes a vow to live a pure life - no drinking, no drugs, and no sex before marriage. Shelby doesn't want to make the vow, but she can't go against Promise 1. Shelby decides the only solution is to have sex before the ball, thereby negating the vow. She's in a race against time to lose her virginity.

So this was...predictable. Yes, that's how I would sum up this book. Super predicable. By the time I was on page 20 it was plenty clear exactly where this book was going and what was going to have happened by the end.

Shelby has two close friends, Ruby, her fun-loving adventurous crazy friend and Jonas, her organized, serious, male friend. Together they help Shelby live life to the fullest by jumping of bridges and so forth. Shelby has practically no relationship with her father. They are awkward and uncomfortable together, and never have any kind of conversation.

As soon as this information was presented I had the book figured out. Shelby was at some point going to realize she was in love with Jonas all along, and Jonas has been in love with her all along but already knew it. Also, Shelby and her father were going to become closer as they are forced to work together on this crazy Princess Ball thing.

And that is exactly what happened. Shelby works out THE WORST PLAN EVER of having sex with a random guy she doesn't care about to negate the Promise because IT IS THE ONLY WAY because having to actually talk to her dad about feelings is six million times worse than having sex with practically a stranger. And yes, I know adolescents have swollen amygdales and therefore they often make reckless and stupid choices but damn, what a crazy-ass plan. One that her friends, while not necessary approve of, support.

So Shelby proceeds to try to have sex with several people and it all ends badly. Shelby has no game. Also, she won't have sex with someone who won't use a condom, so she's not a total idiot. That was nice.

THEN Shelby finds out Jonas had sex with someone once and she's totally upset and angry and hurt and trying to figure out why, oh why does she feel this way? She figures it out...and then proceeds to finally have sex with a perfectly nice guy from Ruby's work. That was the only surprising thing in this book. I was totally surprised that Shelby actually went through with the having sex with someone she didn't really care about. After she'd figured out she cared about Jonas. It felt very strange. So that was the one unpredictable moment in the book. Don't worry, Jonas seems cool with Shelby having sex with someone else, even though he was upset about it before.

And yes, Shelby and her father are much closer now, and Shelby realizes she's been ignoring Promise 2 all along, and blindly following the others.

There were some genuinely funny moments and some witty dialogue. I definitely think it will be a hit with teens.

Purity comes out April 24, 2012.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,010 reviews150 followers
April 27, 2012
Purity is a well written novel, which I think is expected when you're dealing with someone as well respected as Jackson Pearce. I think my issue is that I was expecting more. The novel is technically excellent, but for me it was lacking heart. The issues in this novel are certainly of the kind that should by default stir your emotions up. And, confession, I'm emotional about books. I am a book crier. I cry in books all. the. time. So I was surprised that I didn't feel any kind of connection with the emotions that were driving this plot.

I think the main issue is that Shelby seems kind of cold. This stems from the "rule" system she lives by, based on the three requests her dying mother made of her. Everything gets analyzed. She's doing things to live her life to the fullest, but not because they necessarily mean something but because she has to. She carries a list around with her and adds to it and crosses things off as she goes about her day. That's what this book felt like. Things being crossed off a list. Even Shelby's friends felt a little formulaic to me, and though I could tell these were people who cared about her, I didn't connect with them beyond that.

And I wish the romantic entanglements had been a little better clarified/foreshadowed/something. While I wasn't shocked at how things went, that stems more from reading a million YA novels than the relationships I saw between the characters. In some instances, that works with the plot. But in the biggest instance, I found it didn't work for me at all.

Then there's the subject matter. I think that Jackson Pearce handled this as well as she possibly could have. It's clear that Shelby is acting like a normal teenage girl who has spent several years rationalizing all of her decisions, good and bad. And she certainly had her reasons for making some less than responsible choices. But Shelby also stood up for herself, and there was a limit to her bad decisions, if that makes any sense (and I kind of doubt that it does). Shelby is going to have sex for the first time with a guy she doesn't love, which is an idea I wasn't thrilled with, but she is at least responsible in the moment. Safe sex? Important. Etc. And I think the overall message of the book is a good one. That's where the technical proficiency comes in, because even though I felt sort of distanced from the characters, I appreciated the way the "lesson" of this book was paced out. You could see all these little steps Shelby had taken forming her realization at the book's end.

The reason I enjoyed this book, though, was Shelby's dad. I kind of loved how adorably clueless he was, and how honest he was with her at the end about kind of drowning under the expectations of being a good dad. THAT was the only relationship that tugged at me, and I think it was the most well done part of the story.

Overall, Purity is the kind of book that is good because it's talking about something that needs to be addressed among teens (And, let's be real, adults) and because it's written by someone who clearly puts a lot of thought and effort into her work. But I couldn't rate it higher because I just didn't connect with the characters.
Profile Image for Book Sp(l)ot.
339 reviews75 followers
April 24, 2012
Just before her mother died, ten-year-old Shelby promised she would do three things: listen to her father, love as much as possible, and live without restraint. It's been fairly easy to follow those three promises so far - she avoids having her father tell her not to actually do something so that she can still follow through on the third promise and even has a list of (sometimes crazy) things she hopes to accomplish in life.

But when her father tells her about the Princess Ball where daughters vow to live a 'pure' life (no drugs, no sex until marriage and no alcohol until age 21), Shelby finds herself torn between Promise One and Promise Three. Until, she finds a loophole. Just like the one that allows her to do crazy things as long as her dad tells her best friend Jonas or someone else not to do them, Shelby has found a way around the chastity vow for the ball.

If she loses her virginity before the ball, the vow will be void and therefore she can make it and not be lying to her father but still not break Promise Two or Promise Three to her mother.

When I heard that Jackson Pearce was writing a contemporary YA about a purity ball, I was in a bit of love . . . and I so wanted to stay in it. But, I didn't.

I actually had a hard time finishing Purity. Shelby's mother makes her promise to 'listen' to her father and somehow Shelby takes that as doing exactly what her father says - if he says don't do x she can't do x. I can understand listening to him but just because he wants her to do the purity ball doesn't mean she can't voice some disapproval. To me, 'listen to your father,' doesn't quite translate to 'blindly obey - while finding any loophole around doing what your father says.'

Shelby didn't talk to her father about her discomfort with the vows, or anything at all, really. I had a hard time connecting with a character who makes a promise to her mother to listen to her father and then, because she doesn't want to vow to remain a virgin until marriage (or tell her father so), plans to lose her virginity in seven weeks.

The ending (as it pertained to two characters) was one I could see coming from the very beginning. It wasn't a big to-do at the end so it wasn't particularly rewarding, it was just something predictable throughout the story.

I still love the idea of a contemporary YA about the purity balls - and what they really mean; whether girls are taking them seriously or just doing it to look good to outsiders, how their families feel about it, if it's like a Deb Ball but with the vows and really just a society thing . . . I love all of that, but I didn't quite find it in Purity.

Here are two reviews one and two by bloggers who liked Purity more than I did - you might get a different sense of the book from them (I think they were able to connect with it more than I did).

As I said, I'm a Jackson Pearce fan and do hate that I didn't like this one - I'm hoping for more contemporary YA from here, though.

Rating: 5/10

thank you to LBYR and NetGalley for my egalley for review
Profile Image for Jen  Bigheart.
299 reviews126 followers
April 23, 2012
Sixteen-year-old Shelby lives by three Promises that were set in place by her dying mother - to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. The Promises were easy to follow as a girl, but now that her father is on the Princess Ball committee (father/daughter dance where the girl pledges her purity), Shelby decides that she isn't ready to commit to being a virgin until married. Only problem is, her unwillingness to pledge goes against the original Promises. Shelby and her cohorts, Jonas and Ruby, discover a loop-hole and decide that if Shelby looses her virginity before the ball, there would be nothing to pledge. Shelby has 35 days to loose her Vcard in order to keep her mothers promise and not lie to her father.

By the preface and blurb of "A novel about love, loss, and sex - but not necessarily in that order." you might guess that this book talks about sex - a lot. Sex is a part of life, even teen life. In this day and age, that's just the way it is regardless of how you feel about premarital sex. The premarital sex talk didn't bother me, but I was concerned with the portrayal of boys in this book. Shelby has a one-way ticket to Hookupville and she doesn't consider the boys feelings during her journey. When she is denied some action, she throws an epic tantrum. She comes off as a bizzo and the boys came off a bit one-dimensional. This made me squirm a little. Guys and girls both like meaningless hook-ups, I get that (gulps), but it would be nice if Shelby entertained the idea that boys aren't all complete horn dogs. She doesn't give them enough credit, in my opinion. Also, I'm pretty sure Shelby's mother would be mortified to learn that her daughter is having sex just to keep her promise. (double gulp)

One thing I was not expecting was the atheistic views from Shelby. This aspect of the book made me the most uncomfortable. Ever since Shelby lost her mother, she has a hard time believing that there is a God because if one did ,in fact, exist, why in the world would he choose to have her mother die? That's a fantastic question and I'm sure children and teens have asked that a million times. It's something grown adults ask themselves when they suffer a loss. Her thoughts on the existence, or the lack of, God came up time and time again. I tried to put myself in Shelby's shoes, but man I had a hard time with her viewpoints.

I liked Shelby's friends a lot more than Shelby. I thought they were more well-rounded and grounded. At times they try to talk sense into that girls hard head, but Shelby usually doesn't listen well. No matter your opinion, this is a book that will start conversations. Much needed conversations about sex and philosophical ideas about life. I can picture a mom just like me picking up Purity, reading, and taking their daughter out to lunch for a nice chat. I think that is a beautiful thing.
Profile Image for Jennifer Ellision.
Author 34 books377 followers
March 23, 2012
Posted to Almost Grown-up:

Jackson Pearce has done it again, you guys!

I won’t pretend I didn’t go into Purity with some high expectations, having read and loved Pearce’s other works. I was thrilled for the chance to read her first contemporary novel, Purity.

And I spent a lot of the time that I read it with either big-ass grin on my face or holding back tears when Pearce reached INTO my chest to pluck at my heartstrings.

I won’t lie to you, this book isn’t going to be for everyone because some people will react negatively to the religion and sex hot buttons, but in my personal opinion, it was amazing.

Shelby has lost her mother and it leaves her wondering about the existence of God and with doubts as to the whole religion thing. There was a point in my life where I would have squirmed about the subject because the doubts would have felt like mine. It’s not as though I experienced something as scarring as Shelby, but for a good 7 years or so through high school and college, I considered myself an atheist– I just wasn’t sure about the God thing and, back then, I kept leaning back and forth on the idea. Pearce handles the topic exceedingly well– Shelby never feels like she’s attacking the idea of God or religion, just working through her own issues with it.

Pearce has an amazing grasp of the teenage mindset. Her characters are not only relatable, but they feel completely authentic, from how Shelby interacts with her friends and families, to the party she goes to, to how she interacts with her “Potentials.”

Sidenote: some of those friend scenes were laugh-out-loud funny; especially a certain Target scene. I loved that Shelby has healthy friendships and though I mostly hate the Princess Ball, I loved that she starts to build a healthy relationship with her dad through the planning of it. Those scenes, along with Shelby’s memories of her mother were the ones that got me choked up more often than not.

I’m not going to be shocked if some people try to get this book banned, but the fact is that sex is something that teenagers think about. Hell, it’s something that adults think about. And whether you decide to do it premaritally or not, it’s an extremely personal decision that Shelby feels is being taken away from her and she acts accordingly.

Overall rating: 5/5. Jackson Pearce’s 1st contemporary is just as engrossing as her paranormal efforts. Basically, the woman is a stellar writer and Purity shows that just as well as her other novels.
Profile Image for Mary  BookHounds .
1,300 reviews1,782 followers
May 8, 2012

This is a story about loss and love and what comes in between. As Shelby's mother is dying, she extracts three promises from Shelby: "to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint". So far at age seventeen, she has had no real problems in following her mom's advice. She finds minor loopholes in the rules to stay true to them and so far it has worked. That is until her father becomes head of the Princess Ball committee where daughters promise their purity in all things. Yes, including sex so she must find a major loophole in order to stay within the boundaries of the promises she made to her mother all those years ago while making a new one to her father. She decides that if she looses her virginity before she makes the vow, she will be free and clear of that promise.

Shelby's two best friends, Jonas and Ruby, are in on the plan and help devise a way for her to do the deed by making a list of requirements. She first started making lists when her mother passed away and now has a sort of bucket list of things she wants to complete before she gets old. Some of the things on her list are silly and some very meaningful. They go from skydiving to putting flowers on every grave in her mother's cemetery. Her family and friends all note that Jonas is more to her than a BFF, but Shelby is clueless to the fact. This part of the book was where I wanted to yell at her to open her eyes and see what was in front of her face.

This book should spark some great conversations between children and their parents. Yes, even guys should read this book even though it is mostly directed at girls. It points out some plain fact about kids these days that parents in their busy days probably never take the time to see. They really need to have open discussions about sex. I adored how the author used humor to get her points across. Yes, there is frankness in this book, but nothing graphic. I found it refreshing that the characters actually felt the ramifications about their decisions and that sometimes their choices were wrong but not the end of the world as some adults would like us to believe.
Profile Image for Jay.
514 reviews370 followers
May 26, 2012
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When I first picked up Purity, I didn’t even read the synopsis, so you can say it is another book I picked up for its cover. However when I did read the synopsis, I was a bit put off. A girl is trying to lose her virginity because of a promise she made to her dead mother many years back? The whole plot felt absurd, HOWEVER it was delivered with tons of humor. Which is why, while the topic of Purity made me a bit uncomfortable, overall it was enjoyable because the author went for the light, funny dialogue, which is always a plus for me.

Shelby, the main protagonist made a promise to her mom that she would 1. Listen to everything her father says, 2. Love as much as possible, and 3. Live without restraint. Many years later, you see that Shelby has taken those three promises as her bible. She lives her life following these three rules, especially the first one, and the last. The problem arises when she has to go to a dance where she has to make vows to stay pure, and this is where Shelby has to find a loophole to obey her father (go to the dance) while at the same time NOT make those vows because that is not ‘living without restraint’.

Throughout the book, with the help of her two bestfriends, Jonas and Ruby, she makes a list of all the eligible guys, and tries her luck with each of them. However in the end she goes through a big revelation of who her true love is. Now, I saw that coming miles away, actually ever since the character she ‘loves’ was introduced. Also, it happened in the last couple of pages of the book so the ending felt too rushed for my liking and a bit too clichéd. I wished that the too much unnecessary details and side characters of the story had less pages dedicated to them and more pages dedicated to her figuring out WHAT she was looking for all this time. However, All in all, purity was an enjoyable read, while a bit too generic, is a cute contemporary to anyone looking for something light to read.
Profile Image for Rayne.
852 reviews288 followers
July 11, 2012
This is a surprisingly quick, light and funny read about topics that shouldn't be any of those things. I'm not talking just about the sex and the pressure teens get from all sides to engage in it, sometimes without really wanting to, or even about the despicable misogynistic implications of sex that are, somehow, still alive today. There's also religious beliefs and doubts, lack of communication in the family, death of a love one, peer pressure and self-awareness. Somehow, Pearce managed to put it all together in a simple and funny story that's actually pretty entertaining once you decide to ignore just how absurd the whole thing is.

The thing is, I never really got a clear idea of what exactly Pearce was trying to say, what message did she want to give through this story. Like I said before, there are a lot of heavy topics in this book, and while the author does give a bit of philosophical thought to some of them, many of them are left hanging and the result is confusing and conflicting.

I'm not going to deny that the book is fun. I laughed at how silly Shelby was and warmed up to her quirky friends. The characters were drawn nicely, and that's probably the best thing about the book. Even if they all were incredibly stupid and never realized that just saying how they felt and what they thought would've made rhings a lot easier.

I was uncomfortable with the way Shelby lived her life and how she just went along with things, even though she didn't like them, just because someone else told her too or because it could make someone else happy, and it also bothered me that, even when she confronted someone, she let her point go unmade and just went along with what someone else told her.

In the end, this is a funny, light read that should not be taken seriously at all.

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